TEL AVIV – The Olympics opening ceremony must include a commemoration for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Israel’s Minister for Culture and Sport said Sunday.
A “black flag” will always fly over the Olympics if the murdered athletes continue to be ignored, Miri Regev said at a memorial ceremony on Sunday at the Rio De Janeiro city hall honoring the Israeli victims.
“This ceremony is not enough,” the minister said at the event, attended by Israeli, Brazilian, and Olympic officials as well as family members of the slain Israeli victims.
“The grief for the Munich athletes does not belong only to the families, only to Israel, only to the Jewish people,” she said. “It is a tragedy also for the IOC [International Olympic Committee], which will have a black flag flying.”
“This must become an integral part of the Olympic Games opening ceremony to remind the free world what can happen when we let our guard down,” she added.
IOC President Thomas Bach also addressed the event’s attendees, saying of the Munich victims: “We remember them because they are our fellows Olympians” and added that the attack was “an assault on the values that the Olympic Village stands for.”
Bach oversaw a ceremony for the victims earlier this month, prompting a widow of one of the slain athletes to say it brought a form of “closure” for her. After observing a minute of silence, the IOC chief hugged the widows of two of the victims.
The ceremony included the inauguration of a monument called the Place of Mourning that will become a feature at every Olympics in the future.
Bach, who was overcome with emotion at the ceremony, read out the names of each of the 11 Israelis and the German policeman who died in the terror attack, the worst in the history of the Olympics.
Regev hailed the IOC head as being “the first to understand the obligation of the IOC to mark this tragedy.”
The families of the victims of the Munich massacre have for years petitioned for more public acknowledgement from the IOC.
In 2012, the IOC came under fire for refusing to observe a moment of silence for the Israeli victims in the opening of the London Games, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the attack. That year, American Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman earned the gold medal for her performance to the tune of “Hava Nagila.” Raisman, then 18-years-old, dedicated her medal to the slain Israeli athletes.